Australian military strategist says Ukraine brings little to war with Russia


Recent Ukrainian gains against invading forces “mean little” to Russian President Vladimir Putin, an Australian military strategist has said, warning that a “savage response” is underway.

Dr Allan Orr said while the headlines tell the story of a defiant Ukraine keeping Russia back, he thinks that is a far cry from what is happening on the battlefields.

“Western media have been unreliable in this war – more cheerleaders than side commentators,” the counter-terrorism and insurgency specialist told

“The whole war so far has been strategically schizophrenic, of course, but Putin fought to the bitter end in Chechnya and there’s no reason to think he’ll ever stop in Ukraine.

“Christian and Slavic Ukraine is far more important to him than Muslim Chechnya ever was.

“The war will continue as long as he lives, but the murder could strengthen Russian resolve. We just don’t know.

And while Mr Putin has remained silent in recent days, a recent 90-minute phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has only strengthened his position.

The Russian leader reportedly told the Chancellor that he had not changed his stance on the invasion and did not consider the action a “mistake”.

Ukraine “wins” only about 5%

Ukrainian forces’ demands for the liberation of the Kharkiv region in the northeast of the country in recent days, as well as victories defending the capital, have been widely seen as a major victory for the resistance.

However, Dr. Orr’s research suggests that to date Ukraine’s victories actually amount to only around 5% of the land retaken from the Russian occupiers.

The academic believes Mr Putin is mainly focused on the long-disputed Donbass region in the far east of Ukraine and so far he has not backed down.

“Whether the initial Russian column targeting Kyiv was sincere or a feint, since the withdrawal from the Kyiv region, Russian forces have repeatedly stated that their initial objective was control of Donbass,” Dr Orr said.

“It seems a controlled withdrawal, by Russian standards, to focus on the borders of this region [Luhansk and Donetsk]although after a boost.

“The fight in Kherson [a port city in Ukraine’s south] was much stiffer on the other hand, with five kills to one reported in favor of Russia there. And they can afford to lose Kherson, remember, that’s on the west side of the Dnieper, a side that Russia doesn’t care about winning, yet.

Dr Orr said Ukraine’s famous gains were probably insignificant to the Russian invasion.

He said further gains for the resistance would prove difficult.

“You see they’ve still ceded very little ground to Luhansk or Donetsk, for example,” Dr Orr said.

“Further gains for the Ukrainians will be more difficult, more than likely, [that’s] why Ukraine chose the areas it chose for the offensive.

The bloody fighting in Kherson was a Russian ploy to drain Ukrainian manpower, Dr Orr believes.

And that, it seems, is happening.

The Washington Post An emergency department in Kherson reported last week that hospitals were full of Ukrainian soldiers with severed limbs, shrapnel wounds, mutilated hands and broken joints.

The soldiers told the Washington Post how underarmed the forces were, citing a technology gap with their better-equipped Russian adversaries.

“They used everything on us. Who can survive an attack for five hours like that? said one of the wounded fighters.

“We lost five people for every one they did,” said another.

Dr. Orr said that for Russia it was war as usual.

“It’s the Russian way of waging war, it’s the way they won in Chechnya,” he said.

He said the visit of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in August may have, by proxy, put Ukraine’s war effort in serious jeopardy.

The United States agreed to sell US$1.1 billion (A$1.6 billion) in weapons to Taiwan after the visit, angering China.

“The Ukrainians need to start looking six to twelve months ahead when Russia will have Iranian and now probably Chinese weapons online, which so far have held back military sales to Russia, but with the agreement on the weapons in Taiwan, they can now justify the provisions as a response,” Dr Orr said.

Dissent inside Russia ‘doesn’t look serious’

Despite recent reports of dissent in Russia by state media and compatriots, including politicians, Dr Orr believes Mr Putin still holds significant control.

The Kremlin has put out fires of dissent against Mr Putin, issuing a warning to those who would go too far in questioning his strategy.

Dissenting voices must “remain within the bounds of the law” which punishes those who “discredit” the military, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Tuesday.

“The line is very, very thin, you have to be very careful here,” Mr Peskov said.

The Russian Defense Ministry describes the setback as a strategic “regrouping” of its troops and denies any debacle.

Local elected officials in St Petersburg have called for Mr Putin to resign – even though their petition has virtually no chance of succeeding.

The group of politicians at local government level were swiftly dealt with by a local court after accusations of “treason” against Mr Putin and calls for him to resign.

Members of the Smolninskoye district council in St. Petersburg now face fines and the dissolution of their council.

However, Dr Orr compared it to the Mayor of Melbourne lambasting the Prime Minister.

“It’s not a representative dataset,” he said.

“Indeed, the dissolution of the council shows that the courts are still strongly pro-Putin.

“Equally the criticism of Putin domestically is of not winning, as opposed to an unjust invasion in the first place.”

Other reports of dissent need not worry Mr. Putin, according to Dr. Orr.

“Putin is compensated to a large extent by domestic corruption, ironically,” he said.

“The generals, rightly, are more blamed than him at the moment. Public opinion seems to be that the Generals have lied to everyone and that he currently has time to pick up the pieces and adjust.

“If he doesn’t show gains and stop the war by reaching Donetsk borders while keeping Luhansk regions within 12 months, it could start to become very risky for him domestically.”

And speaking out against the Russian president is a dangerous game.

At least seven Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin may have been murdered as the president purges his inner circle of former wealthy allies.

Sources believe they may have been murdered as it is claimed there were similarities in their deaths, The sun reported earlier this week.

“Of course the dissidents could kill him at any time, but it is far from clear that this will keep Russia out of the war, as support for him within the apparatus is still apparently strong, particularly from from the intelligence services, which are killing all serious dissenting voices right now,” Dr. Orr said.

“This seemingly strong support from within the national security apparatus has been frozen by the expansion of NATO, make no mistake about it.”

Russia must ‘save face’ to stop fighting

Dr Orr believes a “negotiated withdrawal where Russia saves face” is the only way to end the fighting.

He said the only way for that to happen would be for NATO to disband, which he described as “militarily redundant at this point”.

“The Russian army could disintegrate under pressure from here. The whole war has been crazy, and you can’t blame the Ukrainians for probing, but better guess – they shouldn’t push much deeper into the pockets lest they get cut and chewed,” he said. he declares.

“Ukraine already has a labor disadvantage. Instead, Ukraine must adjust to the long war and wait for the peaceful death of Putin, a hard pill to swallow… Let Russia keep eastern Ukraine for now, let rebuild it at his expense.

“See if Russia returns it after Putin and if not, then carry out these kinds of offensives once you have reconstituted your forces biologically and materially.”

Dr Orr said that if Ukraine spreads with offensives like what has been seen in the Kharkiv region, it could struggle to fend off another “more competent, more resourced” attack on Kyiv.

The fighting is ‘far from over’

The fighting in Ukraine will not end anytime soon and a potential winner is unclear, Dr Orr said, as other world leaders also expect to be in for the “long term”.

US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday it would be a long and difficult task for Ukraine to regain all of its territory captured by invading Russian forces.

“It is clear that the Ukrainians have made significant progress. But I think it’s going to be a long time,” Biden said.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht agreed, saying Reuters it was too early to assess whether Ukraine’s “remarkable success” marked a turning point in the war.

Dr Orr said Russia was acting “accordingly” to existential threats.

“It’s not the dry, dry war that we were sold on,” Dr Orr said.

“The only way out that avoids nuclear escalation and proliferation is to throw NATO out of a deal where Russia withdraws at the end of the Alliance.

“The European Union is now much stronger than Russia, we are sure of that,” he said.

But for now, strategists have said Ukraine can expect Mr Putin to hit back hard – and soon.

“Expect some sort of savage response from Russia soon, more for domestic political consumption than strategic necessity,” he said.

“Expect that in the near future, barring an Afghanistan-style military morale collapse, they will push hard in the middle to extend their lines to the edges of Donetsk proper while the Ukraine concentrates its limited forces on the Russian flanks in Ukraine.

“I fear this war is far from over.”

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